Real-time examination of aminoglycoside activity towards bacterial mimetic membranes using Quartz Crystal Microbalance with Dissipation monitoring (QCM-D)

Tanmaya Joshi, Zhi Xiang Voo, Bimbil Graham, Leone Spiccia, Lisandra Lorraine Martin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

16 Citations (Scopus)


The rapid increase in multi-drug resistant bacteria has resulted in previously discontinued treatments being revisited. Aminoglycosides are effective old antibacterial agents that fall within this category. Despite extensive usage and understanding of their intracellular targets, there is limited mechanistic knowledge regarding how aminoglycosides penetrate bacterial membranes. Thus, the activity of two well-known aminoglycosides, kanamycin A and neomycin B, towards a bacterial mimetic membrane (DMPC:DMPG (4:1)) was examined using a Quartz Crystal Microbalance with Dissipation monitoring (QCM-D). The macroscopic effect of increasing the aminoglycoside concentration showed that kanamycin A exerts a threshold response, switching from binding to the membrane to disruption of the surface. Neomycin B, however, disrupted the membrane at all concentrations examined. At concentrations above the threshold value observed for kanamycin A, both aminoglycosides revealed similar mechanistic details. That is, they both inserted into the bacterial mimetic lipid bilayer, prior to disruption via loss of materials, presumably aminoglycoside-membrane composites. Depth profile analysis of this membrane interaction was achieved using the overtones of the quartz crystal sensor. The measured data is consistent with a two-stage process in which insertion of the aminoglycoside precedes the detergent-like removal of membranes from the sensor. The results of this study contribute to the insight required for aminoglycosides to be reconsidered as active antimicrobial agents/co-agents by providing details of activity at the bacterial membrane. Kanamycin and neomycin still offer potential as antimicrobial therapeutics for the future and the QCM-D method illustrates great promise for screening new antibacterial or antiviral drug candidates.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)385 - 391
Number of pages7
JournalBiochimica et Biophysica Acta - Biomembranes
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2015

Cite this